Steamboat Springs Pete List uprooted himself from an urban aspen grove for a perch above the Yampa River and a view of the conifer and aspen mix of Howelsen Hill.
List, previously of Beatrice & Woodsley in Denver, has made the move to Steamboat Springs to be the new executive chef of Sweet Pea Market and Restaurant on Yampa Street. Sweet Pea will reopen for the summer season at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
During List’s six-year tenure at Beatrice & Woodsley (a restaurant inspired by a love story), it was as lauded for the food as it was for the unique decor.
As might be anticipated from a restaurant disguised as an aspen grove, the cuisine at Beatrice & Woodsley is rustic and seasonal, making List a perfect fit for a restaurant that doubles as a fresh market during the summer.
“We just clicked, the two of us,” Sweet Pea owner Katherine Zambrana said of List. “I felt it was a good fit.”
Zambrana said she heard through word of mouth that List was looking for a change of pace and got in contact with him soon after his March resignation.
"I had my fill of the city life," List said. "I'd been wanting to get up to the mountains for a while."
A couple of trips to Steamboat before Sweet Pea’s mud-season closure sealed the deal.
“The style that Sweet Pea had and has fostered is very similar to what they’re doing down there,” List said in reference to Beatrice & Woodsley. “I think it’ll be a very easy transition for me and the restaurant.”
Zambrana agreed that Sweet Pea’s concept was similar to what List was used to: a lot of local, fresh ingredients and a farm-to-table focus.
Anyone who’s eaten at Beatrice & Woodsley will recognize his style and the certain techniques and ingredients he carries with him, List said. It’s a “more rustic-American focus here than there. A lot less contrived here than there.”
List said his goal is to eventually have everything on the menu made in house and keep it simple and straight forward.
“Keep a fine dining mentality to the kitchen and service,” he said. “But keep it casual and approachable.”
List has been in town for about a month, Zambrana said, and she skipped a long mud-season break this year to focus on getting Sweet Pea set for the upcoming summer season.
“We’re working on the menu, working on Sweet Pea, 24/7,” she said, adding that the restaurant has undergone some other updates and has a new outdoor bar.
The signature tacos will retain a spot on the new menu, Zambrana said, and lunches on the patio will still be a draw. The goal is to refine Sweet Pea, she said, and step it up a couple notches.
“Of course, Yampa Street is changing, and we want to keep up with it,” Zambrana said.
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz